June 7, 2020
Revised Common Lectionary
Genesis 1:1 – 2:4a
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
Lectionary for Mass (RC)
Exodus 34:4b-6, 8-9
Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56 (52b)
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
Most Christians have heard many times the concluding portion of today’s Epistle reading as part of their worship: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you” (2 Corinthians 13:13).
The beauty and comforting familiarity of this benediction belie the sharp words of rebuke that otherwise dominate Paul’s two letters to the church at Corinth. Both of these writings reflect the divisions—some petty and some bitter—that had caused rifts among members of that community: the appalling behavior of wealthier members toward the poor among them; the self-aggrandizing claims by some that their gifts were superior to those of others; the cult-like factions that formed in response to some teachers and leaders.
The entire closing section of 2 Corinthians that we read this Sunday is a tightly stated appeal for unity. This kind of oneness can seem like a fantasy in a society where a black runner can be shot to death by white vigilantes and an unarmed black man can be murdered on the streets of Minneapolis by a white police officer.
With so much racism and in injustice in the world, we might well ask how families, churches, and communities can practice and promote the spirit of oneness that Paul expresses in the series of succinct and powerful instructions that precede his well-known benediction: put in order, agree, listen, live in peace, kiss.
So often it feels as though we are living with forces directly opposed to these simple commands expressed here by Paul. Far too often people create chaos, dispute, talk past one another, live in conflict, turn away. These ways of acting, all too common in the world today, are the antithesis of life in the Triune God.
The Trinity is the ultimate model of unity. Like our Jewish and Muslim siblings, Christians profess faith in one God, who is the only God. The “threeness” of God in no way negates God’s “oneness.” The three persons of the Trinity dwell in a perfect communion of love that overflows to create, redeem, and sustain.
Paul’s familiar benediction is both an affirmation and a challenge for us amid the brokenness and fractiousness that surround us. Let us embrace ways of living in which people of color are no longer victimized. With Paul, let us pray that people everywhere may experience the grace, love, and communion of the Trinity. As members of God’s family, may we bring those gifts to our work of anti-racism, of reconciliation based on justice, and of human solidarity that reflects the love of the Triune God.
A Hymn for Today: “How Wonderful the Three-in-One”
This text by eminent hymn writer Brian Wren, FHS, expresses many of the themes found in today’s reading from 2 Corinthians, developing various aspects of the wonderful unity shown forth in the life and love of the Trinity.
How wonderful the Three-in-One,
Whose energies of dancing light
Are undivided, pure and good,
Communing love in shared delight.
Before the flow of dawn and dark,
Creation’s Lover dreamed of earth,
And with a caring deep and wise,
All things conceived and brought to birth.
The Lover’s own Belov’d, in time,
Between a cradle and a cross,
At home in flesh, gave love and life
To heal our brokenness and loss.
Their Equal Friend all life sustains
With greening pow’r and loving care,
And calls us, born again by grace,
In Love’s communing life to share.
How wonderful the Living God:
Divine Belov’d Empow’ring Friend,
Eternal Love, Three-in-One,
Our hope’s beginning, way and end.
Text: Brian Wren. © 1989, Hope Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Image Credit: Icon of the Holy Trinity, Andrei Rublev
“Word and Song: A Lectionary Reflection” is written by the Executive Director of The Hymn Society, Rev. Dr. Mike McMahon. For his full bio, click here and scroll down to the “staff” section.